Samsung Galaxy S21 & S21+ 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 takes some features away, but it’s still a great game android phone for the price.

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ByRoland Moore-Colyerpublished 15 March 22

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OS:Android 11 with One UI 3Screen size:6.2 inches (2400 x 1080)Refresh rate:48-120HzProcessor:Snapdragon 888RAM:8GBStorage:128GB, 256GBmicroSD: noneRear cameras:12MP wide (f/1.8), 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2), 64MP telephoto (f/2.0) with 3x hybrid zoom/30x digitalVideo:Up lớn 8K at 24 fpsFront cameras:10MPBattery:4,000 mAhBattery life: 9 hours và 53 minutes (60hz), 6 hours and 31 minutes (adaptive)Charging: 25W (charger not included)Colors: Phantom Violet, Phantom Pink, Phantom White, Phantom GraySize:5.97 x 2.8 x 0.31 inchesWeight:5.95 ounces


For years, the Galaxy S series have been do-everything, have-everything flagship phones. But with the Galaxy S21, Samsung has decided lớn take away almost as much as it’s upgraded. What could be a recipe for failure has actually yielded an excellent Android điện thoại cảm ứng that’s $200 cheaper than the Galaxy S20.


With its 6.2-inch display, trio of rear cameras, and the same 4,000 mAh battery, the Galaxy S21 isn’t much of an nâng cấp over its predecessor. Sure, it comes with a new camera module & colour schemes, as well as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888. But the Galaxy S21 turns out to be very much an iterative upgrade; the big changes come in the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra this time around.

But now the Galaxy S22 is here, improving upon the Galaxy S21 in basically every way — not lớn mention the Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 Ultra. Yet there"s a lot more khổng lồ this take-away tale. Keep reading our Samsung Galaxy S21 đánh giá to find out why removing stuff has worked out rather well for Samsung’s new flagship phone.


Samsung Galaxy S21 review: Release date and price

You can buy the Samsung Galaxy S21 right now, either by itself or via a carrier contract.


In the U.S., for a starting price of $799 you can get the Galaxy S21 with 128GB of storage, but fork out an extra $50 & you can get the 256GB mã sản phẩm for $849. That’s $200 cheaper than the Galaxy S20 cost a year ago — quite the saving.


In the U.K. The Samsung Galaxy S21 starts at £769 for the 128GB model, with double the storage setting you back £819. The 5G Galaxy S20 came in at £899, so the S21 is £130 cheaper.

Just bear in mind, there’s only a USB-C cable in the box, so you’ll need to pay out for a charger if you don’t have one already. And the S21 only comes with 8GB of RAM, with no option lớn get the 12GB of the Galaxy S20, unless you opt for the considerably more expensive Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Do bear in mind that the Samsung Galaxy S22 is on the horizon, tipped for a February reveal. So if you"re not in a hurry to get a new Samsung phone, it may be worth waiting for the Galaxy S22 given we"re have high hopes for its rumored upgrades.

Equally if you bởi want the Samsung Galaxy S21 right now, cửa hàng around và you should find it well below the original launch price In fact, you"re likely to find it"s cheaper than the supposedly affordable Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.

Samsung Galaxy S21 review: Design

From the front, the Galaxy S21 looks alot like the Galaxy S20, with its 6.2-inch display complete with a neat punch-hole selfie camera in the đứng top middle of the screen. Look closer and you’ll see the S21 has dropped its predecessor"s curved display & opted for flat edges.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

The flat edges on the Samsung Galaxy S21 lead to lớn the metal edges flowing lớn the new “Contour Cut” camera design, where the rear camera module seems lớn blend into the S21’s left-hand edge, as well as the back.

Speaking of which, the metal gives way to lớn what’s arguably the Samsung Galaxy S21’s biggest change: a plastic back. Samsung calls it polycarbonate but it"s basically fancy plastic, whereas the S20 makes use of glass.

Opting for a plastic back is likely the biggest reason Samsung can offer the Galaxy S21 at its cheaper price. And while the lack of a glass back might seem odd for a flagship phone, I was pleasantly surprised to lớn find that it didn’t feel cheap. Not only bởi vì I think it feels a little nicer than the polycarbonate on the S20 FE’s rear, it also has a more tactile finish than the glass-backed Galaxy S series, making it feel less likely lớn escape your grip or suck up fingerprints. Personally, I’m happy khổng lồ pocket the savings if this helps keep costs down.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

And the Phantom Violet S21 I had to đánh giá looks fantastic, even if the name sounds a little daft. The violet panel has a pleasantly soft hue, while the faint copper màu sắc of the camera bump và edges give the S21 a pseudo retro sci-fi look; think Star Trek meets Art Deco.

Three other màu sắc options — Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, Phantom trắng — are available but I"ve yet lớn see them in the metal & plastic.

Measuring 6 x 2.8 x 0.31 inches & weighing 6.07 ounces, the Galaxy S21 is a bit smaller yet a little heavier than the Galaxy S20 (5.9 x 3 x 0.31, 5.7 ounces). But I think it is the ideal kích thước and weight for one-hand use; small enough for my thumb khổng lồ reach two-thirds of the display, but large enough to sit down & watch hours of videos on.

The Galaxy S21’s in-display ultrasonic fingerprint reader is also more responsive thanks to lớn using Qualcomm’s new scanner, which is 1.7x larger and 50% faster than the previous generation. I found the S21 rarely rejected a hasty tap from my thumb, which does wonders for my quick-temper.

What’s not ideal is the Galaxy S21 dropped the microSD card slot its predecessors have sported for a while. I’m not sure why Samsung did this, as there’s no obvious limitations of space inside the Galaxy S21, nor would I expect its removal to lớn change manufacturing costs by much. Perhaps it"s one way for Samsung to encourage people khổng lồ buy the 265GB version, though with so many miễn phí cloud storage services, I’m ultimately not too fussed about the lack of expandable storage.

Samsung Galaxy S21 review: Display

Samsung has both downgraded & upgraded the Galaxy S21’s 6.2-inch AMOLED display from what the S20 previously featured. You no longer have lớn choose between a full HD+ resolution running at 120Hz or a QHD running at 60Hz, lượt thích you did with the Galaxy S20, but that’s because the S21 tops out at 1080p resolution.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

While that’s more restrictive, I feel it removes complexity. You can go and set the display to stick khổng lồ 60Hz, if you want khổng lồ eek out as much battery life as possible, or you just love a bit of judder when scrolling through web pages. But then you’d be given up a dynamic refresh rate, which allows the S21 to drop its refresh rate from 120Hz to lớn 48Hz depending on the task at hand. It’s not an upgrade you’ll necessarily notice when you’re not scrolling, but it"s a smart one that quietly makes the S21 more enjoyable lớn use.

Testing its “natural” screen setting, the Galaxy S21 display delivers 109.2% sRGB and 77.4% DCI-P3 màu sắc gamut coverage, và a Delta-E of 0.29. Those are good scores, though the iPhone 12 và the Samsung Galaxy note 20 Ultra beat the S21 in terms of coverage and màu sắc accuracy.

However, in practical use the Galaxy S21’s display is fantastic. Stick it in “Vivid” mode & you’ll see heaps of contrast and color, even if the latter errs on the side of oversaturation. The display is great for watching videos and movies, ogling Instagram pics, and playing games on. Samsung has long had excellent displays on its Galaxy S phones, & the S21 is no exception.

Samsung Galaxy S21 review: Cameras

Hardware-wise, the Galaxy S21 cameras are exactly the same as the Galaxy S20. The triple camera array comprises a main 12MP wide-angle lens, a 12MP ultra-wide lens and a 64MP telephoto lens with 3x hybrid optic zoom and 30x space zoom.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

But Samsung is pulling a Google and leaning hard on software and computational photography upgrades to improve the trio of rear cameras. And for the most part, the Galaxy S21 achieves this.

Let’s start with the standard photo mode. Take a look at the photo below; with multiple colors and shades to khuyến mãi with, plus the light coming in from the left, it presents a điện thoại cảm ứng thông minh camera workout.

The Galaxy S21’s photo is flush with color and detail, though lượt thích Galaxy phones in the past, the colors are perhaps a little more saturated than those of the Google pixel 5 I used for comparison. The pixel 5 delivers a warmer tone & more true-to-life colors, with better dynamic range.

However zooming in, the S21 picks out some finer details, likely due lớn its telephoto camera, with the grill on the mã sản phẩm Aston Martin DB5 and the numbers on the Vox headphone amp clearer than in the px 5’s photo.

It’s worth noting I switched off the Scene Optimizer feature, which uses AI khổng lồ identify what’s in-frame và adjust the camera accordingly khổng lồ get the best shot. In practice, I feel this can result in some over-processing.

Outdoors in natural light and the S21‘s main camera does a fine job. While it was hardly an ideal photography situation, in the shot below, the Galaxy S21 picks out more detail than the pixel 5 in the tower buildings on the right & London"s Canary Wharf in the background. However, the pixel 5 offers more dynamic range và colors that are truer lớn life.

Speaking of which, things get a little complicated in lower-light situations or environments lit by artificial light. I found the pixel 5 was better at edge detection and resolving detail in low light areas, whereas the S21 occasionally throws up smudged và over-smoothed results.

You really have to lớn go looking for this though, và I believe it"s down khổng lồ the Galaxy S21 ramping up the ISO và introducing more noise into darker sections of a shot as a consequence. I suspect this could be some teething problems with the AI processing being applied to low-light areas, something which Samsung could fix with a software update.

Poor light doesn"t help the portrait mode either. Thanks khổng lồ social distancing rules in the U.K. I had to snap a pic of my friend Claire on her doorstep as the sun went down; this meant there was the challenge of dealing with low light on one side and a porch light on the other.

The px 5 copes admirably, delivering more natural skin tones và picking out details in the highlights and the shadows. But S21 struggles a bit, washing out và over-smoothing Claire’s face. Và it fails to pick out much detail in her hair especially on the left-hand side.

Non-portrait S21 photos fare better, so I suspect the portrait mode’s algorithm is struggling khổng lồ pick out what’s in the foreground và what should be blurred out; something the pixel 5 is particularly good at.

In better light conditions, the portrait mode is much better for both the rear và 10MP front-facing camera; take a look at the photo below of Tom’s Guide"s Mark Spoonauer as an example.

And shooting objects rather than faces sees the Galaxy S21 deliver a nice portrait photo.

The Galaxy S21 doesn"t deliver the sharpest of portrait mode cutouts like the px 5, as Samsung opts for a more gradual blur effect. I prefer the clarity of Google’s handset but the S21 still gets some nice results.

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Switch over to lớn the S21 night mode, and the low-light problems are swept away. In the shot below, the S21 delivers a bright image that"s more detailed (notably in street lights) than the px 5. With more cameras to lớn use for capturing light and detail, the S21 shows up the limitations of the pixel 5’s dual rear cameras.

I prefer the colors the pixel 5 offers, though. Và the S21 seems lớn apply a good amount of sharpening to lớn its night shots. Night mode can also be used across all three of the Galaxy S21’s cameras.

Ultra-wide angle shots are expensive on the Galaxy S21, but once you zoom in things come apart. While it captures a wider view than the px 5, punching into a shot reveals hazy details, whereas Google’s phone is much clearer. You’ll have lớn weigh up whether a lack of fine detail is worth a more expensive photo.

It’s with the telephoto camera’s 20x và 30x “Space Zoom” where the S21’s real camera upgrades come into play. Notably, the new Zoom Lock feature, which uses AI khổng lồ identify the subject and steady the shot.

This works rather well and you can get shots that are surprisingly clear for such extreme zooms, even if you have rather shaky hands. Then the processing afterward cleans up the photo and results in a zoomed shot that’s not a muddy mess.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

Using Space Zoom I could get a reasonably clear pic of a small mint tin on my window still from the other side of the room. I’m not sure how practical it is for every-day điện thoại cảm ứng thông minh photography, but it’s an impressive showcase for AI tech.

On the đoạn phim front, the Galaxy S21 covers a lot of bases. Lượt thích the Galaxy S20 it offers up khổng lồ 8K capture at 24 fps, which its overkill for most, but it lets you snap high-quality photos while recording very high resolution videos. Other high-end features include 1080p đoạn clip recording at 120 fps, which makes them super-smooth. Speaking of smooth, the Super Steady mode, which uses AI to compensate for shaky recording, will works on 1080p 60 fps đoạn phim capture.

Another highlight is the new Director"s View when you"re shooting video. You can shoot using the front và rear cameras at the same time, as well as view live thumbnails from the multiple cameras. This makes it easier khổng lồ switch khổng lồ the best shot for your video. It works rather well và is less of a gimmick than I first thought.

The portrait video, which is basically a renaming of live focus video, is also rather slick, delivering footage where the subjects are in focus while the background is blurred. If you move around a lot you can see the S21 working its algorithms, which results in sometimes over smoothing details on faces.

Other camera upgrades include an improved Single Take feature that takes a bunch of stills và photos with a single tap. Single Take now delivers Highlight đoạn phim and Dynamic Slow-Mo clips.

All the above taken into account, the Galaxy S21 delivers an tăng cấp over the Galaxy S20. I don’t think it has what it takes to knock the iPhone 12 Pro Max off our best phone cameras list and the iPhone 12 could still have it beat, But the S21 trades blows with the pixel 5, and beats Google"s phone in a lot of areas. Potential for further refinement on the AI and computational photography side by Samsung leaves plenty of scope for the S21s camera lớn get better over time.

Samsung Galaxy S21 review: Performance

In the U.S, the Galaxy S21 comes with the latest Snapdragon 888 chip, which promises 20% better CPU performance, 35% more GPU speed, as well as boosted AI performance. Even though there"s no 12GB of RAM option, the S21 does plenty with its 8GB, & I didn"t encounter any slowdown in my testing.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

Speaking of which, putting the Snapdragon 888-equipped S21 through a series of benchmarks, saw the chip deliver a multi-core score of 3,302 in Geekbench 5. That’s slower than the iPhone 12, which raked in a score of 3,859. But the S21, unsurprisingly, outpaces a lot of other android phones with the older Snapdragon 865.

As for the graphics performance, the S21 topped out at 33 frames per second in 3DMark’s Wild Life graphics benchmark. It’s beaten by the iPhone 12’s 39 fps, but is ahead of other flagship apk phones. In practical use, though, the S21 chews through games.

Both call of Duty: Mobile và Asphalt 9 Legends ran smoothly at max settings, with the 120Hz refresh rate further adding khổng lồ the smoothness. It’s worth noting that while we tested the Snapdragon 888 Galaxy S21, I was using a handset with the Exynos 2100.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

Built on a 5-nanometre process node like the Snapdragon 888, the Exynos 2100 is meant khổng lồ deliver 20% improvement in energy efficiency and a 10% improvement in performance over the last-gen 7nm Exynos 990. Throwing the S2100 at Geekbench 5, it got a score of 3,391 so is on par with the Snapdragon chip, which is gratifying as Exynos chips have previously lagged behind.

With those games xuất hiện and a load of other apps running at the same time, I didn’t notice any slowdown or lack of responsiveness from the S21, though its back got a little warm.

Samsung Galaxy S21 review: Battery life & charging

Like its predecessor, the Galaxy S21 comes with a 4,000 mAh battery. That’s fine for a phone of its size, though it"s a pity Samsung didn"t up the capacity a little. Still the adaptive refresh rate and improved chip efficiency should deliver better battery life.

Set at the 60hz refresh rate, the Galaxy S21 managed 9 hours và 53 minutes in Tom"s Guide battery test, which involves continuous website surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness over 5G.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

That’s not long enough to make our best phone battery life list, but it beats the 8 hours & 25 minutes of the iPhone 12. & it just about outlasts the Galaxy S20 with its 9 hours and 31 minutes, so the new silicon seems to lớn be playing its part.

Left in its mặc định "Adaptive" mode, which dynamically adjusts the display"s refresh rate, the Galaxy S21 lasted 6 hours and 31 minutes. That"s not amazing, but it"s far from bad when you get a vibrant display with a 120Hz refresh rate.

Furthermore, the AI smarts in the S21 should learn about my phone use over time & better optimize battery consumption, but that’s not going to be something that happens over night.

Charging is where things get a little messy. Fast charging is on offer over the USB-C PD standard, juicing up the battery to 55% in 30 minutes in our testing. The problem is, you need to lớn make sure you have a charging brick to hand, as Samsung only puts the USB-C cable in the box. If you don’t have a charger then Samsung will sell you a 25W charger.

Samsung made a big song and dance about this decision being environmentally friendly; of course, it saves Samsung money too. Ultimately, I feel this is the right move, whatever the motivation. Helping cut down on electronic waste is worth the extra expense and minor inconvenience it might cause some S21 buyers who aren’t flush with phone chargers.

Samsung Galaxy S21 review: One UI & software

While I’ve used Samsung phones for years, I’m not the biggest fan of the user interface it drops on Android. But with the introduction of One UI in 2018, I’ve been slowly warming khổng lồ Galaxy series take on Google’s smartphone operating system. The version of One UI 3 that debuted with the Galaxy S21 built upon this goodwill.


(Image credit: Tom"s Guide)

The interface is more elegant, complete with a redesigned Quick Panel và a notifications screen that feels less cluttered. I especially appreciate the redesigned lock screen widgets as well as the ability lớn place widgets on the screen & adjust their transparency.

While One UI offers a lot of options lớn tweak your Galaxy experience, it can get a bit overwhelming at times when you just want khổng lồ find one particular setting.And my word, bởi vì I dislike the main apps drawer of the One UI. Despite its third iteration, the apps are arranged n a seemingly random manner which if you’re moving from one app-heavy phone to another can make finding the apps you want to lớn set up your homescreen a minor nightmare. Compared to the elegance of the ứng dụng drawer in stock Android, Samsung’s is a mess.

I understand Samsung would like me khổng lồ use its services, but so many other apk phones default to Google features, such as auto-fill for passwords. But One UI 3 tries to force me to lớn use Samsung Pass & my Samsung account, which ironically I often forget the password for. It’s fine once you get setup, but it can be frustrating to lớn use until you adapt to lớn it. There’s still definitely room for Samsung khổng lồ improve here.

To that end, One UI 4.1 is now rolling out lớn the Galaxy S21 among other phones. Và it"s bringing many of the software features introduced with the Galaxy S22 — with One UI 4.1, your Galaxy S21 now supports a host of camera capabilities including Night portrait, pet recognition, telephoto portrait view và more.

Samsung"s flagships tư vấn Samsung DeX. This feature lets you take the Galaxy S21 & connect it to an external monitor to lớn turn the phone into a pseudo Chrome OS experience.

Samsung Galaxy S21 app android 12 update

Samsung released One UI 4 for the Galaxy S21 in mid-November 2021. This update brings game android 12, which offers several key improvements lớn the UI & privacy elements. You can now choose your system accent màu sắc with the màu sắc Palette, or access the privacy dashboard lớn see which apps are using your mic, camera, and location.

While Samsung has modified something from what you"ll find on a pixel phone, you can read our android 12 review to learn more about what you can expect with the update.

Samsung Galaxy S21 review: Verdict

With Samsung removing as much from this phone as it adds, I was prepared lớn be let down by the Galaxy S21. But I needn’t have worried.

Sure, a plastic back isn’t ideal on a flagship phone but I soon got used to lớn the polycarbonate, & the overall design of the Galaxy S21 is lovely, as well as more practical than the S20. The lack of any hardware upgrades for the cameras was a little disappointing, but then they still produce flagship-grade results and have a huge amount of features and tools to really dig into.

I would have liked to lớn have seen Samsung push the hardware envelope for the Galaxy S21, but that’s the domain name of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. By making what I feel was the right choice when it came to removing features, the Galaxy S21 still offers the latest flagship chips, a fantastic display và powerful cameras in a refined smartphone at a competitive price; one that should worry the iPhone 12.

The only fly in the ointment, is the Galaxy S20. If you already have an S20 then I don’t think you’ll benefit from an upgrade. I feel Samsung knows this và the S21 is more for people with older Galaxy phones or looking to lớn move to lớn their next phone. If you"re in such a position, then I really suggest you consider the Galaxy S21 as you won’t be disappointed.